Winter Wonders of Brussels
To be frank, Christmas markets in Brussels are not that special. Apart from the food, they all sell the same things, and even things you will find in all Christmas markets in Europe.
This said, Brussels Winter Wonders (Plaisirs d'Hiver) has been voted one of the best Christmas destinations in 2018.
Disclaimer: photos were taken during different Winter Wonders events.
Winter Wonders are well worth a visit even if you are not a fan of Christmas because it offers splendid sound and light shows.
The most impressive Sound And Light Show in on the Grand Place. It is usually played from 17h00 to 22h30, every 30min and it lasts 15min.
The show changes every year.
The nativity scene used to have real animals during some 40 years but people were endangering them by throwing them things or food. One sheep was also stolen once. Now there are sculptures or naturalised animals.
The Jesus sculpture has been stolen several times.
Here you will find, the biggest market, the ice-skating rink (although it might have been moved in front of La Monnaie Theatre), the wheel, another light and sound show and 2 beautiful carousels, among other things.
The Big Wheel
These carousels really look like they are coming right from a Jules Verne's book.
These 2 carousels are the most beautiful I have ever seen.
Splendid Sound And Light Show on the church's facade.
Again, the subject of the show changes every year.
I would suggest to start with the show set on the Grand Place and then move on to see the one on Sainte-Catherine.
This 45 m long dinosaur swallows visitors for a 15 minute journey punctuated by sound, lights, wind and lasers. Being clautrophobic, I have never tried it.
Bourse (old stock exchange)
There is a little market all around the imposing building and a light show on its facade. The surrounding streets also have some nice decorations.
Forget about waffles, try the cougnous. They are made especially during Christmas times. They are supposed to be shaped like baby Jesus.
Not exactly included in Winter Wonders but close enough to be visited.
This area is great for window shopping but sweets here are overpriced and overrated. Even Marcolini is some kind of fraud for he is supplies himself in raw materials in the same place as the others (whatever he says.) He does have great facade decorations though.
This area has been excessively gentrified. All the shops are now the same : sweets, (stolen) tribal art (Brussels has one of the worst reputation in the world regarding so-called tribal art traffic - and animals and weapons). There is also a Louboutin store now.
Taschen has some amazing cheap books, especially regarding art and history.
Dandoy is specialised in traditional biscuits and a safe bet (except for waffles). There might be less people at this shop than at the original one near the Grand Place. That one is usually packed with people.
Want to make a joke back home? Bring back a Couque of Dinant. It is one of the hardest biscuits in the world.
Want chocolate? Go to Leonidas. It is affordable, pralines are great and they have been Purveyor to the Belgian Royal Household since 2013. Also, it is GMO free and 100% pure cocoa butter. Family owned, it has spread all over the world BUT figures also in the Panama Papers.
Tip: you can ask them to make you a box of a mixture of flavours you like. It is the same price as the already made boxes.
Guest of Honour
Every year, there is a different country invited.
They sell a fantastic (overpriced) black tea with maple syrup flavour.
There are obviously other Christmas markets spread all over Brussels.